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Intro: Welcome to the Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast. I’m Cyndee Ownbey, your host and women’s ministry mentor. I’m the founder of Women’s Ministry Toolbox and the author of Rethinking Women’s Ministry. The Women’s Ministry Toolbox Podcast is a podcast for women’s ministry leaders and team members of all stages (from new to seasoned) serving in their local church community. If you’re looking for hope and inspiration, you’ve come to the right place! In addition to discussing the nuts and bolts of women’s ministry, I’ll be asking seasoned women’s ministry leaders to share their best tips and the lessons they’ve learned. Together we’ll learn to build a flourishing, Christ-focused women’s ministry.
We’re continuing our series on discipleship today by taking a look at the lack of mentors.
Before we dig in, I want to review the definition of mentoring I shared in episode 28.
I define mentoring as the relationship between two believers which provides biblically sound guidance. The mentor is more spiritually mature and often older than the mentee.
Some mentoring relationships are focused on spiritual growth and include Bible study. Often mentoring relationships are focused on living life in a way that honors God. The focus could even be on learning practical skills like cooking. Mentoring often addresses seasonal needs (such as mothering young children and navigating the empty nest).
The mentor and mentee might use a resource to guide their time together. Mentoring should include regular in-person meetings, whether that be weekly, monthly, or somewhere in between.
I regularly hear rumors that women are looking for mentors but the women they ask say no.
Just last week I came across a comment on IG where a woman shared that she had approached 5 women to mentor her and every single one said no. I don’t know the details, but I still find it heartbreaking.
What prevents women from saying yes when asked to serve as a mentor?
Let’s talk through what those barriers might be as well as some ways to remove those barriers so women are more likely to say yes.
3 Reasons Women are Reluctant to Serve as a Mentor
1. Don’t feel equipped.
Many potential mentors admit they don’t feel qualified to teach someone else.
- They don’t know how to teach someone else to read the Bible because they don’t know how to read the Bible on their own.
- They don’t know how to teach someone to pray, because they struggle to pray.
- They don’t feel equipped to share their testimony (or story) of how they came to know Christ as their personal Savior so they aren’t confident in leading someone else to Christ.
Every one of those skills can be taught. Our women’s ministry programs are the perfect place for women to learn how to read the Bible on their own (check out my READ Bible Study for Groups), how to pray (check out my Prayer Warrior Boot Camp for Groups), and how to share their faith stories (see this posts).
Perhaps your team needs to spend a year preparing women to mentor before launching a mentoring program.
2. They feel they don’t have the time.
Most of us have time to spend on the things that are important to us. The excuse of time could be an issue of priorities or it could be consequences of a busy season in life.
- A potential mentor may be dividing their time between a job, husband, aging parents, and grandbabies.
- A potential mentor may need a perspective shift – mentoring can be done while doing life. Invite your mentee to go to the grocery store, cook dinner with you, or sit at a soccer game together.
If we are truly committed to being Titus 2 women, we can make and find the time.
Years ago three of us spent about two months praying weekly for an upcoming women’s ministry conference. I am not an early bird, but the one time we could find to work with all three schedules was 6 AM. We were all able to return home before husbands left and children needed to get off to school. It was a sacrifice for a season, but those mornings were some of the sweetest prayer times. And there was a lot of mentoring happening during the early morning sessions.
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3. They are afraid.
- They may be afraid to share their failures with another woman.
- They may be afraid their mentee will discover the lack of depth in their spiritual walk.
- They may be afraid of getting in over their head.
Most of these fears and others you might be thinking of are rooted in pride.
Mentees rarely expect a mentor to have all the answers. They expect mentors to point them to the One that has all the answers – God.
It can be helpful to remember, mentors are not counselors. Few have the degree or the training. Mentors are good listeners. They may ask thought-provoking questions. Mentors don’t have to offer advice (unless there is a real safety issue such as in the case of abuse). They make referrals to counselors and other services that are qualified and trained to help in those areas that they are not.
In addition to equipping our women on the front end to mentor, we can also use mentoring materials to guide the mentoring process.
Many years ago the women’s ministry team in the church I was serving in set up a separate team to launch a mentoring program. We spent months reviewing a large number of resources. We passed them around, listed out the pros and cons for our church, and covered the entire process in prayer.
The number of mentoring resources can be a bit overwhelming.
There are two mentoring resources I want to offer up for your prayerful consideration. While both might be considered discipleship, I view them as more mentoring-focused. Scripture anchors both, but the focus is on growing not just in knowledge but in relationship with one another.
The first mentoring resource I’d suggest your team consider is Growing Together: Taking Mentoring Beyond Small Talk and Prayer Requests by Melissa Kruger.
Growing Together offers 9 chapters of curriculum for mentors and mentees. As Melissa explains in the introduction (page 9), the curriculum cycles through topics about relationship with God, living in community as believers, and our engagement in the world. Each chapter concludes with questions for the mentor and mentee to discuss. Meeting monthly participants would complete the book in 9 months.
You can find a more detailed review of Growing Together here.
The second resource that I’d suggest you add to your review list is Flourish. It’s a resource created by Passion City Church. Flourish is a one-year commitment. Mentors and mentees will each need a Flourish Journal. Year 1 of the Flourish program (two have been released so far) explores what God’s Word says about prayer, identity, calling, kinship, and gratitude. Each week includes 5 scripture readings and journaling prompts.
Both resources can be used for one-on-one mentoring or in a small group format.
I’ve compiled a list of additional mentoring resources here to help you in your search. I’ll post the link in the show notes.
As with all resources, please vet them thoroughly against God’s Word and the beliefs of your church.
As we encourage our women to live out the call to be Titus 2 women, may our search for solid resources reflect Titus 1:1 which says, “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”
Today’s Toolbox Tasks
- Make a list of the mentoring barriers women in your church may need to overcome.
- Make a plan for preparing women to serve as mentors.
Even if your team has no plans to implement a formal mentoring program, we have a responsibility to equip our women to successfully live as Titus 2 women.
I pray this episode has challenged us to make sure that our women feel equipped to mentor others.
You may also want to read:
Mentoring Resources and Programs
READ Bible Study for Groups
Prayer Warrior Boot Camp for Groups
What’s the difference between discipleship, Bible studies, and mentoring?
Selecting Discipleship, Bible Study, and Mentoring Materials